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Learning Buddies

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liz asadi

on 23 June 2015

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Transcript of Learning Buddies

Learner Feedback
‘It should be used for future courses.’

‘Through learning buddies , the student will take more freedom and improve the skills of R/W and S/L.’

‘I think you should do continue to use this idea in your future courses because it is great way to share our knowledge ,skills and we give and receive feedback on our exercise . Personally, I'm 100% satisfaction.

‘Yes this idea is really good and use this idea in your future courses definitely. seriously I am very happy because of learning buddy concept.’

‘Its very good idea. If we have a learning buddy we feel free to discuss with them.’

‘Learning Buddy helped me a lot. It transformed me from a fearful state to comfortable state while speaking with others in English.’

The findings
We looked at the findings to answer our research questions:
How will learners respond to the idea of working with a learning buddy?
To what extent can self-organizing learner units lead to more successful language acquisition?
To what extent can self-organizing learner units increase time spent using/practising the language?
Learning Buddies
Action Acton is a charity based on South Acton estate, which has run regeneration programmes in west London for the last 11 years. About to be rebranded as Action West London, we run education programmes from our Learning Centre in Acton, but also in Hounslow and Southall: areas of high deprivation with high numbers of people who don't speak English as their first language.

The learners who took part:

17 learners in Hounslow over a 3 month
period, from September to December 2014.
All on an EIF (European Integration Fund) funded programme to support integration of third country national women
Mostly from the Asian sub-continent
All housewives here with small children
Many highly qualified in their own countries of origin
Level of English at the start E3/L1 (intermediate to upper intermediate).

The problems:
Our ESOL learners only spend 5 hours per week in class; a total of 60 hours over a 12 week course (due to funding)
Learners spent as little as 60 minutes per week on top of that using English outside class (see our class survey results slide 14)

Learners reported feeling isolated and:
having nobody to confer with about homework &
having nobody to discuss language issues with
The solution-
and a research opportunity
I couldn't find any research on ESOL learners pairing up outside the classroom to create communicative opportunities to support language development, so decided to find out what would happen.

How will learners respond to the idea of working with a learning buddy?

To what extent can self-organizing learner units increase time spent using/practising the language?
To what extent can self-organizing learner units lead to more successful language acquisition?

Participants were given a questionnaire at the start of their ESOL course.
We asked them about the amount of time they spent using/practising English outside the classroom.
We then gave learners the same questionnaire each week asking them about their English use the previous week, how much time they had spent with their learning buddy and what they had done.
We collected all the data and, at the end of the research period of 5 weeks, we also gave participants a survey about their experiences of working with a learning buddy; whether they had enjoyed the experience and planned to continue the relationship.

Problems encountered
The data collected threw up some unforeseen issues. Primarily, the means of collecting data had not given us all the statistical data we had anticipated.
small sample size. 17 learners took part but not all completed or attended regularly so data is incomplete. Therefore, difficult to draw conclusions.
small sample size meant that learners' answers could skew conclusions
unclear wording of questionnaires led to unclear answers eg: 'time spent using English' sample answer 'a bit'
discrepancies: paired learners often gave conflicting number of hours spent together. Do learners answer honestly?
results seemed to go against expectations eg: time studying English increased from 176 to 291 hours for the group combined. However, the amount of time learners reported spending on practising English outside the classroom remained static at 223.
What we can conclude

For future research, much clearer questioning is needed. More use of closed questions with clear options such as: 20-30 minutes, for example.

However, while the statistical data may be inconclusive,
we can answer the question 'How would learners respond to working with a learning buddy?' positively.
We collected feedback and anecdotal evidence that the participants really enjoyed working with their learning buddy, and that the time spent was time they would not normally have had to practise, use or study English.
Of 8 completed questionnaires 100% answered ‘yes’ the experience had been useful, citing examples such as ‘We can correct our work’ and ‘We can help each other.’

100% also said that they planned to keep in touch with their learning buddy.
Lasting implications for learning

'Learning buddies' provide more opportunities for learners to practise their English, and our learners reported that their experience was a very positive one, with a positive effect on their language acquisition.

If it were rolled out with similar groups, it could also have implications for classroom work ie: teachers could use lesson time to set up 'buddy' activities instead of delivering more traditional lessons.

However, would it work with all groups? Our group were all housewives with children who felt a bit isolated. Other ESOL groups vary enormously and some may not want to take part for personal or cultural reasons. Nevertheless, where appropritae, we have seen that it is a popular and successful model for the development of language skills.

Last word

I leave the last word to one of the participants 6 months after the project ended:

'Studying with the learning buddy was a great way to acquire better understanding of the English language. It was very useful for both of us in order to improve and understand difficult parts of grammar. It also helped us to have fun while making new friends.

'We are still interacting with each other. It is helping us to continue to improve our language learning. When we have free time, we chat online or eat out.

'As the saying goes "two heads better than one'', having a learning buddy to collaborate with while studying is great.'


Learning Buddies
a research project by Liz Asadi June 2015.
Thanks to Marcin Lewandowski, Mary Conway & EmCETT.
Results showed that learners spent between 1 to 4 hours per week using English, but that time was spent studying grammar and vocabulary books and doing homework NOT actually communicating and interacting ie: really 'using' the language.
Did you find being paired with a Learning Buddy useful?

Did you use and learn more English as a result of working with a learning buddy?

Are you likely to stay in touch with your learning buddy now that the course has finished?

Do you feel your English improved as a result of working with a Learning Buddy?

If yes, can you give an example?
Is there anything you would like to tell us about your experience of working with a Learning Buddy? Do you think we should use this idea in our future courses? What can we improve?

pictures used with learners' permission
pictures used with learners' permission
pictures used with learners' permission
picture used with learner's permission
picture used with learners' permission
all pictures produced with learners permission
see attached
all statistical results collected, recorded & saved
I had 3 research questions.
Full transcript